Yale Law also engages in a number of unconventional teaching and grading practices, placing a greater emphasis on establishing a relationship between students and the law than on test scores. Indeed, the school prides itself on what it calls a "spirit of collaboration" which has helped it earn the number-one spot in U.S. News & World Report
every year the magazine has published law school rankings.
According to Dean Harold Hongju Koh, "We train the next generation of leaders in the judiciary and academia, as private lawyers and public servants. Here, we strive to make a difference in this world. When I became Yale Law School's 15th dean in 2004, I outlined four key challenges:
- to make Yale Law School a truly global institution,
- to prepare our students for the profession,
- to reaffirm our commitment to public service, and
- to renew our faculty.
"My goal is to make sure that the greatest law school of the 20th century becomes an even greater law school in the 21st century."
Yale Law offers four degrees: a J.D., an LL.M., a J.S.D. (Doctor of Juridical Science), and an M.S.L. (Master of Legal Studies). The following are brief outlines of the degrees and their requirements:
- a three-year program requiring 83 total units of work
- students must spend at least six full terms in residence
- students earn recommendation for the degree by faculty
- required curriculum includes Criminal Law and Administration, a course of a minimum two units dealing with legal ethics or professional responsibilities, and writing requirements (three units of Supervised Analytic Writing and a substantial paper of at least two units)
- a one-year program for J.D. graduates
- students must complete a minimum of 18 units of regular courses and seminars
- students may complete a maximum of six units of independent research
- students must complete no fewer than 12 units of credit per term
- students spend at least two terms in residence
- students must enroll in September — there are no January admissions
- open to Yale Law School LL.M. graduates
- students must submit a dissertation deemed "a substantial contribution to legal scholarship"
- students spend a minimum of two terms in residence
- students spend at least one additional year preparing and revising their dissertation
- a one-year program open to non-legal professionals interested in how the law relates to their industries
- students must complete the first year of the J.D. program (27 units)
- students must complete courses in constitutional law, contracts, procedure, and torts
- no more than six units of credit may be taken outside of Yale
Admission to Yale Law School is extraordinarily competitive, with a J.D. program acceptance rate of only 6.9%. Of those who are admitted, 79% choose to enroll.
For the class entering in 2007, the 25th- to 75th-percentile GPAs ranged from 3.79 to 3.96, with the corresponding LSAT scores registering over a range of 168 to 175.
Currently, the student body totals 643, 46% of whom are female and nearly one-third of whom are of minority background.
Yale employs 60 full-time faculty and 50 lecturers, fellows, and affiliated faculty. Its student-faculty ratio currently sits at 7.4:1, with the average class size running to an average of fewer than 20 students.
Tuition for the 2007-2008 school year totals $42,000. Eighty percent of students receive some form of financial aid. This figure does not include living expenses, which can vary greatly in the New Haven area.
Median starting salaries for Yale Law graduates break down according to the following for public versus private jobs
- 2004: $51,635/$125,000
- 2005: $52,803/$125,000
- 2006: $54,521/$145,000
Notable faculty at Yale include free speech scholar Owen Fiss, former President of the Israeli Supreme Court Aharon Barak, constitutional scholar Akhil Amar, gay rights advocate Kenji Yoshino, and current Dean and former Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights in the Clinton administration Harold Hongju Koh.
Yale Law School has produced a large number of distinguished modern and historical legal and political figures, among them President Bill Clinton and First Lady and Senator Hillary Clinton, President Gerald Ford, Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, German President Karl Carstens, and law professor Alan Dershowitz.
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